YouKuai Group International ("YouKuai" or the "Company") today announces the completion of its $7.3 million A-round financing, led by TRIREC, a Singapore-based investment firm that focuses on decarbonization-related technologies and businesses globally to support, and an early investor of U.S.-based plant-based meat company Hungry Planet. Co-investors include Thibault Villet, co-founder and former CEO of Mei.com (acquired by Alibaba), as well as several ultra-high net worth individuals from China and Asia. The total funding amount of YouKuai to $8.8 million to date.
"This round of financing is a recognition of our unique model of popularizing alternative protein in China," said Franklin Yao, founder and CEO of YouKuai Group International. "It allows us to expand our partnership and strengthen our loyal fanbase through tasty, healthy, sustainable products and creative presentations. We believe our model tailored for local culinary art and early-adopters will power YouKuai into a leading alternative protein company."
Founded in 2019, YouKuai aims to reshape the global plant-based cuisine landscape. The Company’s purpose is to create a world worth inheriting for future generations through protein diversification, and its mission is to make it easier for the world's consumers to make the "More Good" (plant-based) choice by creating tasty food with a "More Good" version in all food categories currently using animal protein, and by creating charismatic brands to appeal to more consumers.
YouKuai’s first brand and product, Zrou, which takes the form of plant-based ground pork, has become a leading and well-recognized plant-based meat brand in China. Zrou sources all of its ingredients in China, including non-GMO soybeans in the Northeast, and is manufactured in China. Zrou prides itself as a homegrown brand and is well-positioned to tackle two major challenges of popularizing alternative protein in China: taste and market education.
Zrou partners with Michelin restaurants, premium resorts and renowned chefs to create visually appealing and tastebud-exciting dishes. The Company also built a community of influencers, culinary artists, and other early-adopters who have high loyalty to Zrou and help organically expand its influence. Today, Zrou is served in over 100 outlets across China, including over 25 international schools and corporate cafeterias, with over 2.7 million individuals engaged in the Zrou ecosystem.
"YouKuai’s plant-based protein provides a great alternative for the consumer to shift away from animal protein and directly reduce their carbon footprint in an easy and delicious manner," said Melvyn Yeo, co-founder of TRIREC. "Moreover, YouKuai’s flagship Zrou products taste great, are versatile across a diverse set of cuisines, and are locally produced in China for the Chinese palette. TRIREC is proud to be a partner in YouKuai’s endeavor, and we believe this new round of financing is only the beginning of an exciting journey."
"With a leadership team made of successful serial entrepreneurs, a shared Do Good vision and a unique approach, YouKuai will certainly make a distinct presence in the plant-based protein market," said Jonathan Seliger, an angel-round investor of YouKuai and member of the YouKuai Board of Directors.
YouKuai boasts a strong team of more than 50 highly experienced Chinese and international professionals, including brand builders, chefs, food scientists, sales, and supply chain team. Its founders include Franklin Yao (CEO), an expert on brand building and market entry strategies who previously advised global luxury brands; Liqin Lu (CFO), a veteran investment banker and serial entrepreneur; David Laris (Chief Creative Officer), a celebrity chef and a sustainability advocate; and Guihua Zhang (SVP of Market Expansion), a seasoned business development and operations professional.
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